RAF Chinook supports counter insurgency operation in West Africa

18 January 2021 (Last Updated January 18th, 2021 13:36)

A British Royal Air Force (RAF) Chinook helicopter has conducted heavy lift operations in Mali as part of the UK’s ongoing support to Operation Barkhane, a French-led counter-terrorism operation in the west African Sahel region.

RAF Chinook supports counter insurgency operation in West Africa
The UK’s contribution to the French mission, Op Barkhane, is important by providing heavy support helicopter lift. Credit: © Royal Air Force. UK Crown Copyright.

A British Royal Air Force (RAF) Chinook helicopter has conducted heavy lift operations in Mali as part of the UK’s ongoing support to Operation Barkhane, a French-led counter-terrorism operation in the west African Sahel region.

The Chinook heavy-lift helicopter from the 1310 Flt delivered a large air-portable fuel container to a forward operating base.

The delivery will help in extending the French and Malian forces’ operational range and enable them to conduct recces at a greater distance from the base in Gao. The operation was conducted following several days of planning.

Notably, the 1310 Flt in Gao, Mali, comprises three Chinooks, and are operated by personnel from RAF Odiham based 27 Squadron RAF.

UK National Component Commander lieutenant colonel Steve Brining said: “The key to our success has been the full integration of 1310 Flt with the French GTD-A, and latterly, the Danish Aviation Detachment, to integrate our Chinooks with the Danish Merlin and French, Cougar, Puma Tiger, Gazelle and Caiman helicopters.

“2020 saw the detachment maintain a high tempo of operational sorties that delivered strong support to the ongoing mission and is a testament to the skills and professionalism of all the personnel deployed here in Mali.”

In another operation, RAF Chinook flew in formation with a Danish Merlin and French Caiman helicopters to extract French personnel from a location after the completion of their mission.

Groupement Tactique Desert – Aerocombat (GTD-A) French Commander colonel Sylvain said: “The GTD-A, takes under command all of the deployed helicopters supporting Op Barkhane within Mali.

“The aim is to provide direct support to ground units, deliver MEDEVAC and possess the capability to conduct autonomous operations against armed terrorist groups.”

Last year, the UK extended support for Operation Barkhane for an additional six months.